|Posted by Michelle LaMay on March 22, 2012 at 1:30 PM||comments (0)|
Dear Colorado Legislator:
I applaud your support of SB12-163 and and a common sense solution to the problem, socially and fiscally, of the mass incarceration of Colorado citizens, especially our black and brown people, whom, I was told in my UCD Master's in Education program, would be in the majority in our state by 2040.
As the author of Initiative #40, the Colorado Relief for Possession of Cannabis Act of 2012, I am gathering signatures around the state to prohibit the courts from fining and sentencing for possession of cannabis. Enough damage, enough money incarcerating and branding our citizens with the life-long scarlet letter of a possession of cannabis conviction!
Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, http/www.npr.org/2012/01/16/145175694/legal-scholar-jim-crow-still-exists-in-america attributes the aggressive, 40 year-old Federal Drug War with the creation of a new caste of mostly non-violent black and brown felons for which we all pay the cost, socially and fiscally, especially in Colorado.
The legislature increased the amount of cannabis in possession for a misdemeanor from 1 oz to 2 ozs as of August 2011 (and redefined possession as the use, cultivation and transportation of cannabis, CRS 18-18-406). Is it not time to put the nail in the coffin in our decriminalized state by prohibiting fines and sentences for possession of cannabis? Also, cannabis indica and sativa are NOT addictive and users need not be "saved" from this medicinal plant. As a biofuel, a cannabis hemp industry will save this state from financial ruin. I urge an amendment to SB-163 to reflect this discrepancy in the bill and recommend prohibiting fines and sentences for the possession of "the genus cannabis."
And, most importantly, ITS THE MONEY! The spending an average of $32,000 to imprison each Colorado convict for a year is 10 times more than we spend on educating one Colorado child per year! Where are our priorities??
Michelle LaMay, Proponent #1
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on March 21, 2012 at 9:35 PM||comments (0)|
I applaud the Gazette and Mr. Laugesen for presenting the argument for SB 163 with such clarity! But, I must remind him that the legislature increased the amount of cannabis in possession for a misdemeanor from 1 oz to 2 ozs as of August 1, 2011 (and redefined possession as the use, cultivation and transportation of cannabis, CRS 18=18=406). Is it not time to put the nail in the coffin in a decriminalized state by stopping fines and sentences for possession of cannabis? Also, indica and sativa cannabis is NOT addictive and users need not be "saved" from it. As a biofuel, a hemp cannabis industry will save this state from financial ruin.
As the author of Initiative #40, the Colorado Relief for Possession of Cannabis Act of 2012, http://www.relief4possession.webs.com/ , I also support the reduction of sentences for possession of schedule I and II drugs for the sake of our tax payer dollars. Enough damage, enough money incarcerating and branding our citizens with the life-long scarlet letter of a felony conviction! Addicts need a lot of help, but incarceration is not the answer. Michelle Alexander, in her book, "The New Jim Crow," attributes the aggressive, 40 year-old Federal Drug War for creating a new caste of mostly the black and browns for which we all pay the cost, socially and fiscally, especially in Colorado, in my opinion.
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on December 20, 2011 at 6:40 PM||comments (0)|
The "comments" at the end of this very long article from PoliceOne: http://www.policeone.com/drug-interdiction-narcotics/articles/4835061-Legalizing-marijuana-Police-officers-speak-out/ are what reveal the zeitgeist of law enforcement around the country who seem to be more willing to throw in the towel on enforcing possession of cannabis in return for (a very little more) money in their budget for more important things: like GAS for the fleet; food for the truley dangerous inmates etc. Hasn't there been enough damage to our families from busing peeps for possession of cannabis; enough taxpayers dollars in prosecuting and housing cannabis users...for WHAT? To stop people from using cannabis? Like that has worked. In 1992 when I collected signatures on Colorado's western slope to legalize hemp, I would ask peeps, "Did you think when you were smokin' that joint in '67, pot would still be illegal today?" NOW ITS 2012!
I give up on working to "legalize" possession! Cannabis may never be "legal," nationally for many reasons: politicians, lobbyists and the Justice Dept to name a few.
So Coloradoans, lets try another way in our state like we did in 1976, decriminalized marijuana to petty offense for less than an oz., and 2000, Article XVIII, legal possession of "medical" marijuana for a very few "disabled."
Lets adopt Initiative #40 in November 2012 using the concept of mandatory sentencing:
The People by initiative, order the courts to stop fining and senencing for possession and cultivation of cannabis!
Please contribute to the campaign to collect enough signatures to put the question on the ballot. LET'S START A REVOLUTION!
Michelle LaMay, author and proponent, Initiative #40
1370 Columbine St., #3
Denver, CO 80206
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on November 2, 2011 at 8:35 AM||comments (0)|
Movement Starts To End Abuses Against Formerly Incarcerated Comments (6) By Steve Elliott ~alapoet~ in Culture, News Friday, October 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm Share 0diggsdigg Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted Peoples MovementThe damage of the War On Drugs continues long after the original arrest and incarceration. Discrimination against formerly incarcerated people lasts a lifetime, in the form of reduced employment opportunities, removal of the right to vote, and economic hardship.
"The War on Drugs is the biggest cause of disenfranchisement," said Formerly Incarcerated & Convicted Peoples Movement co-organizer Pastor Kenny Glasgow. In 2008 Glasgow won a groundbreaking lawsuit restoring the voting rights of the currently incarcerated and those convicted of drug crimes in Alabama.
San Francisco Bay ViewRev. Kenny Glasgow of The Ordinary People's Society helped win voting rights not only for formerly incarcerated people in Alabama -- but for currently incarcerated people, as well, a first in the nation."As formerly incarcerated people we are hindered from becoming the productive people in society we actually want to be," Glasgow said. "With this network we are serving our country after serving our time. We want to create harm reduction and public safety for all."
Formerly incarcerated people from around the country will meet in Los Angeles on November 2 to ratify the National Platform of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples Movement (FICPM) and discuss an agenda for action.
Participants will discuss plans to register and mobilize one million formerly incarcerated people to vote in the 2012 selections and strategies to expand the "Ban the Box" employment rights campaign that has yielded legislation in six states, easing discrimination against job seekers with a conviction history. "Ban the Box" would remove the box on employment forms which asks about felony conviction history.
The new movement emerges at a time when the United States has the largest incarceration rate in the world. About two million American children under the age of 18 have at least one parent behind bars. An estimated 600,000 will be released from prison per year over the next five years.
More than four million people are on parole and 800,000 are on probation, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice.
LiberationDorsey Nunn, Legal Services for Prisoners With Children: "The abuse of my rights as a formerly incarcerated person is not just an individual issue""The abuse of my rights as a formerly incarcerated person is not just an individual issue," said convening co-organizer, Dorsey Nunn, executive director of Legal Services for Prisoners With Children. "Sure, my right to work is important to me, but discrimination against our voting and employment rights has a huge impact on civic engagement and the economic well being of black and brown communities in general."
According to Nunn, the convening is open to the public but only participants who identify themselves as formerly incarcerated or convicted people will be allowed to vote to ratify the National Platform.
"Where else has anyone asked us what we wanted?" Nunn asked. "Everyone else has always prescribed what we needed. We're more than somebody else's client-base, more than somebody else's patient. The process to develop a national platform represents the first time we've asked ourselves, what do we want?"
United Church of Christ NewsSusan Burton, executive director, New Way of Life Reentry Project: "There are 60 million people who are struggling with the quality of their lives as the result of mass incarceration in this country""There are 60 million people who are struggling with the quality of their lives as the result of mass incarceration in this country," said co-organizer and Los Angeles host, Susan Burton, executive director of the New Way of Life Reentry Project. "This meeting will allow us to come together as formerly incarcerated people in a way that's never been done before.
"It will connect us and strengthen us so that we can push forward with a common agenda and a common goal," Burton said. "Our goal is to end the discrimination against us."
The gathering will include workshops for youth and family members and trainings on how to overcome barriers to voter registration and "Get Out The Vote" and "Ban the Box" that appears on employment forms asking for felony conviction history.
The FICPM gathering is scheduled to coincide with the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in L.A., November 2-5. The conference hosts, Drug Policy Alliance, will honor Dorsey Nunn, key organizer for the FICPM gathering, with the Robert C. Randall Award for Achievement in the Field of Citizen Action at an awards reception on Saturday, November 5, at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.
Event Details Date: Wednesday, November 2, 8:30 a.m. - 5:45 p.m.Address: Watts Labor Community Action Center 10950 South Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90059
National Platform of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted Peoples Movement
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on October 31, 2011 at 1:15 PM||comments (0)|
“ADAMS COUNTY JURY ACQUITS MEDICAL MARIJUANA CAREGIVER FOR 226 PLANTS AND NINE PATIENTS!! Landmark Caseby Kathleen Chippi on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 1:07amJeanne Ganoe 2:24pm Oct 29
“ADAMS COUNTY JURY ACQUITS MEDICAL MARIJUANA CAREGIVER FOR 226 PLANTS AND NINE PATIENTS!! Landmark Case for “Medical Necessity” Caregiver Defense Costly Four-Day Jury Trial Proceeds While District Attorney Pursues Exemption from Term Limits October 27, 2011, Brighton, CO: Late this afternoon, an Adams District Court jury of twelve citizens delivered a “not guilty” verdict in the felony criminal trial of People v. Richard Wainwright, Jr., Adams District Case No. 10CR007. Mr. Wainwright’s lead defense lawyer Robert J. Corry, Jr., said “This case establishes that a Medical Marijuana caregiver can cultivate or possess as much marijuana as is medically-necessary for his patients. The verdict eviscerates the all-too-frequently repeated legal fiction that a caregiver or patient is strictly limited to six plants and two ounces of medicine.” Mr. Wainwright was charged with “Felony Cultivation of Marijuana” and “Misdemeanor Child Abuse” stemming from his indoor medical marijuana garden in Thornton, Colorado. In December 2009, seven armed detectives from the elite paramilitary North Metro Drug Task Force descended on Mr. Wainwright’s home garden, and took clippings from an alleged 226 marijuana plants. The jury trial lasted four days, took twelve citizens away from their jobs and families, used up hours of limited courtroom time, required a District Court Judge and staff, was litigated by a highly experienced senior-level prosecutor, forced six police detectives or officers off the streets, and placed Mr. Wainwright and his family in a terrifying position. The trial featured testimony about Mr. Wainwright’s former patients, one of whom died from her breast cancer in February 2011 while the case awaited trial. It is estimated that the cost of the trial to Adams County taxpayers exceeded $100,000.00, so far. The District Attorney brought the costly trial while Adams and Broomfield County voters consider Question 1A, whether to exempt the District Attorney from the eight-year term limit that applies to other elected public servants in these counties.
Following the verdict, Mr. Wainwright walked out of Court, convicted of nothing, shaking and sobbing with emotion after this long ordeal ended. He thanked the Jury for their service. In the next week, it is expected that Mr. Wainwright and his legal team will be retrieving Medical Marijuana seized by the North Metro Drug Task Force.
Robert J. Corry, Jr.
Attorney at Law
SUPPORT RELIEF FOR POSSESSION OF CANNABIS
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on August 28, 2011 at 3:35 PM||comments (1)|
September 1, 2011
County Sheriffs of Colorado
9008 US Hwy 85 N. Unit C
Littleton, CO 80125
Dear Board of Directors and Members:
Thank you for your service to our Colorado community. I am sharing this letter I sent to all 52 Sheriffs in Colorado asking for their support for the amendment I have authored, the Relief for the Possession of Cannabis Act of 2012.
Initiative #40 I believe will put the nail in the coffin here in a decriminalized and medical marijuana state where there is very, very little prosecution for possession of cannabis, but the costs to families and our communities remain excessive. The constitutional amendment (attached) is a judicial decree, similar to mandatory sentencing and simply asks Coloradans if the courts should stop imposing fines and sentences for the possession and cultivation of cannabis.
Please, will your organization consider supporting Initiative #40 and invite me to speak? Initiative #40 is an opportunity to free up community resources and tax dollars, though, admittedly, it may only make a small dent, since most jurisdictions in Colorado prosecute very, very few charged with just possession of cannabis.
Thank you for your consideration.
Cc: 52 County Sheriffs of Colorado, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on August 13, 2011 at 9:45 AM||comments (2)|
Reprinted from AlterNet /
The Growing Divide In How America's Law Enforcement Approaches Medical Marijuana
The lives of medical marijuana patients in Oakland County, MI and Oakland, CA are as different as night and day.
August 12, 2011 |
By Nate Bradley
For Oakland residents who want marijuana policies that protect public safety and secure access for medical marijuana patients, it is the best of times and the worst of times. It just depends on which Oakland you live in.
The lives of medical marijuana patients in Oakland County, Michigan and Oakland, California are as different as night and day. While medical marijuana patients in Oakland, CA are protected and treated like law-abiding citizens, medical marijuana patients in Oakland County, MI aren’t so fortunate. Since 2008, when medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan, dozens of legitimate patients have been raided and prosecuted like common criminals.
On the other hand, over the last few years, the Oakland (California) Police Department has been very progressive in taking steps to ensure that medical marijuana patients are protected under the law.
For example, Oakland PD invited advocates into their police academy to make sure their cadets were properly educated on issues surrounding medical marijuana.
Oakland PD also changed its arrest policy to require officers to obtain approval from their on-duty sergeants before they arrest anyone with a medical marijuana card for possessing marijuana.
This policy has reduced the number of patients clogging the court system because of arrests that would most likely have been thrown out when they got to trial. It has also helped build trust between the police and Oakland’s burgeoning marijuana community.
Oakland, CA has chosen to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries instead of raiding them. They have created over 1,000 new jobs, with the average legal marijuana employee making $25 an hour including family health care coverage.
By taking these forward-thinking steps, Oakland has been able to blaze the way for other cities in California that have chosen to “tax and regulate” instead of “raid and prosecute” when it comes to medical marijuana.
As a former police officer and current medical marijuana patient (whose life was literally saved by this medicine) I applaud the city of Oakland for taking a sensible and safe approach to medical marijuana regulation.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the residents of Oakland County, Michigan, where “reefer madness” is apparently still entrenched into the core of local government, even though the state's voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative legalizing medical marijuana in 2008.
Recently the Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement Team raided the homes and business of numerous medical marijuana patients and caregivers. They destroyed plants using alcohol Prohibition-era tactics.
What was their justification for using taxpayer money to raid and arrest medical marijuana patients?
According to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, the state’s medical marijuana law doesn’t specifically mention collectives and co-op grows. He claims that means such operations are illegal. What Sheriff Brouchard fails to realize is that nothing in the law prohibits medical marijuana caregivers from joining together and acting cooperatively to grow and consolidate.
And that’s exactly what these individuals were doing.
After the raids, Sheriff Bouchard likened the patients’ activities to “organized crime,” claiming they were trying to turn Michigan into a “Cheech and Chong” movie. Then, just to add salt on an open wound, the prosecutor obtained a court order prohibiting many of the patients who had been arrested from even using medical marijuana in accordance with their doctors’ recommendations.
So much for being innocent until proven guilty.
Oakland County needs to understand that every dollar spent on raiding, arresting and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and caregivers is a dollar that won’t be spent on raiding, arresting and prosecuting child molesters and rapists.
If they choose to continue with the raid and prosecute tactics, they will only continue to squander taxpayer money and hurt their most venerable citizens: the sick people the medical marijuana law was enacted to help.
Nate Bradley is a former police officer and an advocate for patient rights. He the executive director of Lawmen Protecting Patients and is a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on August 7, 2011 at 9:55 AM||comments (0)|
Reprinted From AlterNet /
By Neill Franklin
Understanding Obama’s "War on Drugs"
August 2, 2011 If the Obama administration really wants to go down in history as the first to take drug policy in a significantly new direction, it's going to have to actually do something. Last month I was interviewed on CNN.com as part of the network’s coverage of the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon declaring the “war on drugs.” It was just one of thousands of articles, broadcasts and blog posts featuring the voices of police officers, politicians and scholars marking an anniversary that offers little to celebrate. Many commentators across the political spectrum eagerly welcomed the opportunity to seriously examine the failures of our drug policies, evaluate possible reforms and opine on what it all might mean.
But not everyone was as excited by the opportunity for reflection on how we can make drug policy more effective. After reading my interview on CNN.com, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy apparently contacted the news organization and demanded equal time to defend the Obama administration’s continuation of U.S. drug prohibition policies.
The published response presents a rare and revealing window into the thinking behind the nation’s drug policy at the beginning of the fifth decade of the “war on drugs.” The transcript is of great interest to anyone who wants to understand why -- despite clear scientific evidence, real-world experience and political opportunity -- a policy that is so obviously failed and is so profoundly harmful is able to continue year after year.
Written by Rafael Lemaitre, a public affairs staffer in the drug czar’s office, the interview answers obfuscate important facts and completely avoid many of the most important issues in the debate about drug policy.
With polished clarity, Lemaitre spells out a worldview and political intent based on three key (false) ideas:
* We are making great strides against drug abuse.
* The “war on drugs” is permanent, and any alternative to it means anarchy.
* The only goal of real importance in drug policy is to reduce the number of drug users.
Is the “War on Drugs” Working?
As proof that we are making “tremendous progress,” Lemaitre clings to the fact that that cocaine production in one country – Colombia – has dropped over the past decade according to some metrics and that drug use in the U.S. is now lower in some categories and demographics than it was during the raucous 1970’s.
First of all, the fact that cocaine production in Colombia seems to be falling isn’t really a sign of success in light of the fact that U.S.-backed eradication efforts – to the extent they have “worked” – have only really succeeded in pushing production of the drug into neighboring Peru, where coca growing has risen every year for the past five years.
And when it comes to drug use in the U.S., the truth is that use rates have continually fluctuated over the years and decades. The fact that drug use today is down in some categories compared to 1979 isn’t all that meaningful when you consider, for example, that the percentage of 12th graders who regularly use illegal drugs has sharply increased over the past two decades.
Now, compare this to the historic across-the-board reduction we’ve seen in tobacco use over the past few decades. To achieve this, we haven’t had to knock down any doors with SWAT teams, sentence anyone to decades in prison under harsh mandatory minimum sentences or strip anyone of their right to vote or to receive government benefits. Instead, a long-term and diverse educational campaign, in which government and industry have collaborated, has defined nicotine addiction as a health issue and has helped many Americans quit smoking without the threat of the criminal justice system.
Could Ending the “War on Drugs” Open the Drug Use Floodgates?
Lemaitre says that ending prohibition of the currently illegal drugs would be irresponsible and would make drugs “more available in our communities,” leading to an explosion in use and abuse.
But, consider a recent study by the World Health Organization showing that the U.S. – despite being the home of the global “war on drugs” – has the highest rates of marijuana and cocaine use in the world. Indeed, Americans use drugs at a higher rate than people in other countries that have modernized their laws by treating drugs as more of a health – rather than a criminal – issue.
It’s clear that creating harsh penalties for drugs doesn’t reduce use, and the absence of harsh penalties doesn’t lead large numbers of people who wouldn’t otherwise imbibe to become addicted to dangerous drugs.
Lemaitre says he sympathizes with people who are “frustrated by the negative impacts of drug use and who might be tempted to submit to “silver bullet ‘solutions’.” To be clear, though, no one on the anti-prohibition side of this debate would characterize regulating drugs as a panacea. We have to do a lot better, and while legalization itself won’t be a cure-all for drug abuse problems, it will at least bring those problems out of the criminal realm and above-ground where a true public health strategy can begin to work. As an added benefit, ending prohibition would undo much of the additional non-use-related damage that banning drugs has created.
Which brings us to the third question raised by Lemaitre’s comments:
Is Reducing the Number of Drug Users the Most Important Goal in Drug Policy?
When asked by CNN what individuals can do given the enormous complexity of the drug problem, Lemaitre offered a quick to-do list: talk to your kids about drugs, be alert to risk factors such as “association with drug-abusing peers” and clean out the medicine cabinet. Implicit here is the view that it’s all about individual users. While concern for drug-using individuals is obviously an important issue for anyone looking at drug policy, there are several other considerations one should not ignore – like market violence, economics, human rights and international relations, just to name a few.
This use-focused mindset is an important part of what lets prohibitionists like Lemaitre essentially turn their backs on pressing concerns about the hundreds of billions of dollars in global tax-free revenue that prohibition creates. No more worries about why we have given control of this lucrative traffic to violent criminals. Not once in his CNN interview does Lemaitre express any concern about the forty thousand dead in Mexico’s drug wars in the last five years or the millions of Americans whose lives have been tainted by criminal records resulting from pointless drug possession arrests. The drug czar and those in his office know all-too-well that these horrors are a regrettable but unavoidable price for a drug prohibition strategy that they mistakenly believe is helping to significantly reduce drug use. So, they’d rather not talk about it.
In an encouraging sign, the administration does appear to at least acknowledge the emerging political consensus that the “drug war” is a failure and that a new direction is severely needed. To wit, the Lemaitre interview contains glossy rhetoric about our inability to arrest our way out of the drug problem and the “balanced” approach that the Obama team is taking. But nobody should be fooled. The Obama administration’s own drug control budgets show that it, like every recent one before it, is all-in with a punishment-oriented drug policy in which “victory” is impossible, “defeat” is unthinkable and evidence, science, common sense and compassion can take a hike.
If the Obama administration really wants to go down in history as the first to take drug policy in a significantly new direction, they’re going to have to change their thinking, their polices and their budgets, not just their rhetoric.
Neill Franklin, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, has been police officer for more than 32 years and has served as a commander for the Maryland State Police’s Bureau of Drug and Criminal Enforcement, as well as a trainer with the Baltimore Police Department.
|Posted by Michelle LaMay on August 4, 2011 at 7:50 PM||comments (0)|
Overcrowded jails inimical to justice
In California, long jail sentences pack prisons, but a Supreme Court ruling and a hunger strike may improve conditions.
by Rose Aguilar Last Modified: 03 Aug 2011 13:50
Over 8,500 people have been convicted under California's Three Strikes law, which was enacted in 1994. According to Stanford's Three Strikes Project, over 4,000 inmates are serving life sentences for a non-violent third strike. People are rotting away, and, in many cases, losing their minds in inhumane conditions for stealing one dollar in loose change from a parked car, attempting to break into a soup kitchen, and possessing less than a gram of narcotics.
If you're caught with even a small amount of drugs for personal use, you could be charged with a felony. According to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), over 9,000 people are sent to California state prisons every year for drug possession, costing taxpayers $450m.
"If you made non-violent property offences and possession of small amounts of drugs misdemeanors instead of felonies, you'd reduce the annual prison population by tens of thousands and save billions of dollars," says Stephen Gutwillig, California director of the DPA.
According to California Prison Focus, California is cutting $150m from its education budget in order to pay $140m in overtime costs alone to guard thousands of prisoners with no violent write-ups or behaviour.
Many California Democrats will privately say they back sentencing reforms and overturning the Three Strikes law, but they'll never say it publicly for fear of being branded "soft on crime". Their inability to do the right thing for fear of losing the next election is ruining lives and breaking families apart. Mass incarceration has also been extremely detrimental to the economic development of communities of colour, which, in turn, leads to violence and an even larger prison population.